Thoughtful deliberation over the issue of preventing school shootings is difficult when people keep shooting up schools.
An ad hoc assemblage of Utah worthies called the Utah School Safety Commission (ad hoc enough that it is apparently exempt from state open meetings laws) was created in March after the Parkland, Fla., massacre (death toll: 17) and was remembered after last week’s shooting in Santa Fe, Texas (death toll: 10).
The group’s final meeting is now set for June 7 and, if there is to be a point to all this, a report suggesting steps for the Utah Legislature and others should soon follow.
So far, there is no reason to expect anything significant out of the body.
One of its initial leaders, state Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, bailed early to focus on his campaign for the U.S. Senate. But not before making it clear that one reason for the state to act would be to preempt anything that might “infringe on our Second Amendment rights.”
But the attempts to blame the carnage on anything other than the nation’s obscene affection for firearms are getting more and more absurd.
In the wake of the Texas shootings, don’t-blame-the-guns ideas have included building schools with fewer doors, tasking schools with the active monitoring of all of their students’ social media accounts, blaming it all on the decline of religious faith, on the increased use of drugs to control maladies such as attention deficit disorder and repeating the mantra that better mental health services would help solve the problem. And trench coats.
Well, the United States and Utah do need more resources devoted to mental health care. But painting the problem of violence in schools — and theaters and concerts — as primarily one of mental illness does little good and may even make things worse.
Many people who would benefit from mental health care do not seek it because of the social stigma attached. Associating mental illness with mass murder — as if every person in that situation is a time bomb about to go off — only magnifies the perception that emotional disorders are something to be ashamed of, not admitted to, not addressed.
That approach is also willfully ignorant of the fact that nations across the globe have people afflicted by mental illness — and ADD, video games, violent movies and trench coats — yet only in the U.S. is the hashtag #IfIDieInASchoolShooting trending.
Many of our children now openly worry that being killed in their school is less a matter of if than when.
The core of this problem is too many guns, holding too many bullets, in the hands of too many people who would never qualify as a member of a well-regulated militia.
That’s the key. Not walling off our schools and arming our teachers.
Nobody should go to school in a hard target.